EC looks to screen poll candidates

The Election Commission (EC) is looking at screening election candidates and political parties more tightly to prevent politicians from abusing their powers after assuming office.

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Election commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn raised the issue for discussion yesterday at an EC meeting held to iron out election reform ideas, which will be forwarded to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) for consideration.

Originally one of four proposals drawn up by commissioners in charge of election administration, Mr Somchai said the screening would help bring in "knowledgeable and capable people" to work for the country and ward off possible abuse of authority.

The other proposals covered ideas to improve the EC's work efficiency in the central and other regions, promote the public's role in making elections free and fair, and encouraging the civic sector to help monitor poll proceedings, he said.

The proposals, if adopted, will require amendments to the law, Mr Somchai said.

He said the EC would be happy to take part in the reform council so it would be able to voice its opinions about elections and political reforms if asked to by the NCPO.

EC secretary-general Puchong Nuttrawong said the EC proposals on electoral reform were expected to be concluded by next week.

According to Mr Puchong, commissioner Theerawat Theerarojanawit, who is in charge of public relations, will hold a meeting today to mull the pros and cons of the idea that the EC pay the travel expenses of voters going to the polls. The EC hopes this will help reduce the incidence of vote-buying.

The EC and King Prajadhipok's Institute has conducted a study on the issue, he said.

Mr Puchong said former prime minister Pridi Banomyong said in the 1933 general election that some compensation in the form of travel expenses should be given to voters who exercised their right to vote.

"The commissioners in charge of political party affairs will look into the practices of other countries which offer some compensation to voters who come to cast ballots,'' Mr Puchong said.

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